The Right to Choose
I've never known that feeling, the feeling many men and women have when they yearn to reproduce and raise children. It is alien to me. Until recently, I never had any desire to even interact with children very much. I would see babies and kids and not really know what to do or say to them. As I've grown older, I've learned that I do enjoy them. I like how they are little sponges, learning so much more every day than any adult ever could. But I still don't have that feeling. I only know what it is second hand. Maybe that makes my stance on abortion easier for me.
I am liberal. I am a feminist. I do not want children, or have the financial means to raise children. I do not believe that a fetus is a child. Not only that, but as someone with a chronic disease that negatively impacts my life, I fear passing down this disability, especially to a child whom I would love. As a vegan, I find it very hypocritical that many who oppose abortion, citing it as murder, continue to eat meat, as if that were not murder. All of these factors would lead one to believe that I am "pro-abortion."
I am not. I am pro-choice. The difference being, that I believe in the ability to make a choice because making this illegal is more harmful to our society than legalizing it. And that's what it is, the ability to make the choice. Being pro-choice does not mean that the individual would ever have an abortion. It means that we, as a society, support the right to choose. We defer judgement and take away the stigma of this painful situation.
Though I identify as a very liberal-minded individual, not all my close family and friends support the legalization of abortion. Some of these people are conservative, while others are liberal. Some go to church every week, while others do not identify as any religion. It's impossible to make any assumptions with people's beliefs on this subject.
I used to think that as a feminist, I would have to embrace the practice of abortion. Who has the right to judge these men and women making this difficult decision? With such strong opposition, how great would it be for a woman to stand by her decision to abort, not just in the case that she is raped or cannot afford to raise a child, but that she simply did not want to raise any children. What a strong woman to make decisions not based on the pressure of others, as society often requires of women, but to think of herself.
A friend once told me that having an abortion was the best decision she ever made. She was in a relationship with a man that she knew would not last. She was not in a position to start a family--she did not have a serious job and was enjoying being a young person. It was the first time I had ever heard of anyone being so unapologetic for an act much of society views as murder.
Years ago, a boyfriend of mine told me that he and his girlfriend in high school got pregnant. It was due to ignorance, like many young pregnancies are. He never wanted children, and probably still does not. Expecting him to brush off the event, I asked him what it was like. The look he gave me was perplexed. "It was awful," he said shortly. Having to endure the scrutiny of others' opinions, regardless of if they knew what he and his girlfriend had decided to do, him having to raise the money for the surgery, her having to endure the painful procedure, and them both having to keep this secret, was absolutely terrible, nothing anyone would ever hope for or possibly enjoy.
When another friend of mine learned she had become pregnant with her drug-using boyfriend, her first inclination was to have an abortion. She was ready to head to the nearest clinic, but her boyfriend talked her out of it. Though their relationship did not endure, her child is the best person to have ever come into her life. She adores this little one and is a wonderful mother. The child is loved and they are better for having her in their life.
I have witnessed a completely traumatized woman admitting that she had not one, but two abortions just months apart. She sincerely believed she was a horrible person for the selfish act. Even though she was trying to make the best decision, she had ruined her life with guilt and low self esteem. Everyone could see that she was ready for the people she had told to hate her as much as she hated herself. It was painful to watch. In that moment, I wished that people who believed those who had abortions made an "easy decision" and "didn't care" could see this young woman.
I have never been in that situation. I have never had to seriously consider what choice I would make. Even as someone who does not adore children and dream of becoming a mother, I know the decision would not be easy for me. It's impossible to know what I would decide without being in the situation--that point in life with all of its factors to consider. So much of society wants for me to suffer over the decision, regardless of the circumstances.
Repealing the legalization of abortion would not only force many unprepared women into motherhood, as the above situations imply, but would put the woman as secondary. If the mother was too ill to give birth to a child, or if she had a disease that could be passed down to a child, the birth would still need to progress. She could die or her child could be born with a terminal illness. And people won't just stop having abortion because it is illegal. "Coat hanger abortions" with women being put under the care of inexperienced practitioners and unsanitary environments would proceed, just as they had years ago. The guilt women feel over this decision would be even more stigmatizing.
I know that my sympathies to people in this situation will make me enemies. I sat on this blog for a week, reading it over and over, deciding if I really wanted to voice my perspective on this situation. This argument is exhausted for many people. Most people have decided what they believe when it comes down to abortion and are unwilling to listen to other perspectives. I don't know if I will be able to convert anyone. So why write about this? I write about this because I have seen the loneliness and the judgement in people who have had to make the decision. It's not invisible, but for many people it's hard to see because their own views cloud their vision. I want compassion and understanding with a stance that is so often seen as selfish.
Supporting the right to abortion does not mean that the person agrees with it, or would ever have one. It just means that everyone is given the opportunity to decide for themselves what is best. It means that people will not seek illegal means to terminate pregnancies. It means that people will not ruin their lives over the pain that they feel in making this decision.
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